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How to Improve Umpiring standards in Cricket?
How to improve umpires and umpiring in international cricket?
Umpires and umpiring decisions in cricket have always been put under scrutiny and analysis. Its been long since ICC introduced Elite panel umpires and neutral umpires for every series but even this effort of ICC does not seem to answer the continuing debate against umpiring decisions.
The use of technology has completely changed the way cricket is watched in modern days. With more and more people watching cricket on TV it has changed the face of cricket and it had an impact on umpiring too. With players pay packet getting bigger every day no umpire wants to be on the firing line by giving a wrong decision. In spite their best efforts umpires do make mistakes as they are human and are bound to commit the odd error. Till now umpiring blunders have been accepted as part and parcel of the game of cricket but things are now changing. With TV viewer ship soaring and technology developing umpiring errors get highlighted again and again so the cricket fraternity around the world are calling for third umpires to given total control and abolish field umpires to avoid errors in umpiring decisions.
But before a decision is taken which may completely change the game of cricket there are a few things we need to consider. Umpires just like players have their own aspirations to be part of the game. At lower levels like club and domestic cricket umpires are indispensable and TV viewer ship is minimum. If an umpire knows that he cannot qualify to be an international field umpire why will he even be interested in domestic and club level cricket? There are fears that field umpires may be left only to signal boundaries, no balls and wides and refer everything else to the third umpire. This would mean not only a loss of time but also make the field umpires feel they are unimportant and nothing much to contribute to the game. This would be an extremely unfortunate circumstance and we need to work out a system which can work both for umpires as well as players.
The ideal platform for any kind of experiment would be ODI cricket. We can draw a line from the stumps at the batsman end to the bowling end. This would be extremely helpful for umpires to take LBW decisions correctly.
The current international schedule is packed and requires a lot of travelling both for players as well as umpires. This can take its toll and we have to agree a tired individual cannot perform at his optimum level irrespective of the fact whether he is a player or an umpire. The ICC should increase the number of umpires in the Elite Panel to help ease the workload on international umpires. This would help umpires to be fresh and they would get appropriate rest before every international game they officiate in.
The performance of an umpire or match referee should be reviewed daily during a Test match and ODI and appropriate feedbacks should be given. Generally this is done at the end of a Test match and a series which puts unnecessary pressure on umpires for the umpiring mistakes they might have committed. If a feedback is given to them everyday they can work on their mistakes to minimize them.
Today umpiring is a career which is associated with intense pressure on the field and loneliness off the field. Efforts need to be made to make sure the gulf between players and umpires does not widen, otherwise the game itself would be under a major threat. Umpires are an integral part of cricket and we need to ensure they get the support and respect they deserve.
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